German industry is wasting potential for innovation – Study

June 30, 2015 | News Germany

Nine out of ten industrial enterprises feel under pressure to increase the number of new products and to shorten their development times. In practice, however, the requirements for this are still lacking. For instance, work on innovations mostly takes place during overtime hours or after work for almost one in three companies. In addition to this, good ideas are rewarded too rarely, especially in large enterprises. Here, employees at one in five businesses even expect to make a fool of themselves when contributing creative ideas. This is what the Staufen Management Consultancy found in its 2015 Innovation Study. More than 150 German industrial enterprises were surveyed about this. “More than ever, companies now have to regard the constant strive for innovations as an important component of their company culture,” stated Martin Haas, Executive Board member of the Staufen AG Management Consultancy. “Management has a duty here. They have to create the space and the climate for creativity. Unconventional thinking and actions should receive targeted support.”  However, industry is still far from this form of culture for innovation. It is true that approximately two thirds of companies remunerate ideas and proposals that have been implemented. In isolated cases, companies also reward suggestions for improvements that have not been put into practice. There is, however, the negative fact that too many companies (21 percent) do not provide their employees with any incentive to contribute ideas. In addition to this, 32 percent of the interviewed managerial staff are self-critical when conceding that employees’ new ideas are not checked quickly and impartially. At 48 percent, this share is even substantially greater in large companies. Furthermore, very few companies train their employees in methods for innovation and 70 percent do not employ a professional innovations manager. Even in terms of large companies that have annual turnovers of more than 250 million euros, only every second company employs this form of specialist. “We have noticed that industrial enterprises currently feel an enormous amount of uncertainty, and, at the same time, a great deal of pressure. They know that they have to support and encourage innovations more actively but do not know how they should proceed in practice,” stated Mr Haas, expert on innovations. He recommends that companies support innovations within a structured process and work with trusted Lean methods in a similar manner to that used for production. “Creative processes also need a framework and need specific management. This will enable industry to correctly identify and assess potential for innovation and to implement this in both a targeted and cost efficient manner.” Award and innovations forum for GERMAN INDUSTRY: At the GERMAN INDUSTRY innovations forum in Stuttgart on 3 and 4 November, experts from companies and science show how medium-sized companies can make new products, services or business models ready for the market in a better and faster way. At the same time the “GERMAN INDUSTRY Prize for Innovation” will be awarded for the first time. Outstanding, application-related innovations from medium-sized companies will receive awards. Winfried Kretschmann, Prime Minister of Baden-Württemberg, is the patron. For more information about the event, please go to:

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